When we arrived at Alton, it felt homey, like a small railroad town, with years of history, just nestled into the corner of Illinois and Missouri. Alton has the reputation of being the most haunted town in the state. There are haunted tours, and a secret way (I’m told) to get back into the mines. As tempting as a ghost tour was, we passed, and found our destination: Evolution Cycles is cleverly placed along a pretty busy stretch of road. For the past year and half, the shop has rested just down the road from Fast Eddies, a pretty infamous biker destination, not only for their food, but for their huge outdoor/indoor area that is smoker friendly and has live music.
As we pulled up to the shop, there were a few bikes and people outside, hanging out and looking over a just-built (literally), ‘41 knucklehead. It was literally GLOWING, having just been painted by Shithead, with red flames across the frame and molded tank, and it was a one-of-a-kind job that made this bike stand out.
You see, Evolution Cycles is one of the few remaining shops that works on anything, and offers up services above and beyond just welding. Do you have a 1982 Honda Goldwing that needs attention? Yup, they'll do it. 1970’s Honda cruiser? Yes. Mid-’90s Harley anything? You got it. The owner, Drew Huddleson, has amassed an entire garage full of bikes left by customers who are waiting in line, patiently, for their rides to become great again. They will get expert repair, care, and professional paint, all in one stop.
Scottie Forbes, aka EC's 'ol' man with decades of chopper and bike knowledge, had his beautiful build out front, and a panhead belonging to Drew sparkled in the midday sun. As we were ushered inside, smiling faces greeted us, with beers in hand. The shop was a decent size, with almost anything you could need to jig up a frame, mount a frontend, or weld a sissy bar. Installed in the corner is an air compressor that once belonged to Drew’s Grandfather, when he had a business running in this exact building. The history runs deep in this shop.
The front of the house has a wall dedicated to Soiled Rags, Drew’s clothing line, and his t-shirts are so soft, I was excited to find one in my size. His mom, lovingly referred to as “Momma Drew”, helps with all of the behind-the-scenes boring business that takes place in this family oriented environment. Their apprentice, Dylan Schuette, eager to pass down the trade, has learned invaluable information from such a sturdy crew of mechanics and fabricators.
With the ability to bust out a run of sissy bars, or to customize a diamond theme bike, right down to the shape of the exhaust tips- while keeping the humble attitude that is thankful for friends and supporters that challenge them daily to become better builders is what makes Evolution Cycles a shop to watch for new ideas and exciting builds. Follow their action on their website and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram. -Amy
Photo by Benny Stucker